Flights to Zamboanga del Sur capital remains suspended, governor tells airline
PAGADIAN CITY, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR—All flights in this city remain suspended until authorities lift the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) measures adopted to control the spread of COVID-19, the Zamboanga del Sur COVID-19 Task Force declared in a statement.
The Task Force issued the statement on Tuesday after reports circulated here that airline company Cebu Pacific Air already had scheduled a series of incoming and outgoing flights here and Manila on May 16 to 20.
Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor Yu sent a letter to Cebu Pacific Air telling the airline company about his order placing the entire province under GCQ from May 1 to May 31, which means all regular flights in the city were not allowed until after the GCQ would have been lifted.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) also classified the province of Zamboanga del Sur under GCQ in its Resolution No. 35 approved Sunday night.
Yu said the airline company had yet to clear with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), while its passengers had to meet all health protocols before they could be allowed to fly and land in the province.
Nelson Cenas, officer-in-charge of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), said 145 passengers were scheduled to arrive here from Manila aboard Cebu Pacific’s 5J771 flight on May 16. The airline also has four other flights scheduled here and Manila until May 20.
Jeesrel Himang, provincial information officer, said the province’s COVID-19 Task Force called an emergency meeting on Monday to check how prepared was the province for the arrival.
But both the CAAP and the Task Force admitted they were not yet ready to receive regular airline flights because they did not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and rapid antibody testing kits to ensure that the new arrivals would not be contributing to the spread of the virus.
The Task Force, however, clarified that residents could come home to the province as long as they complied with the requirements which would include a medical or quarantine certificate, rapid test results and a DOTr clearance before coming here.
Provincial Board Member Jennifer Mariano said the persons booked in the flight were not part of the Balik-Probinsya program but were possibly passengers who had to re-book their tickets after they were caught in the mid of the Manila lockdown.
Except for the sweeper flights which coordinate with the provincial government and follow quarantine protocols, local officials are still waiting for the final guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force and DOTr on the resumption of passenger flights here, Mariano said.
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